Mark Wade says EastLink should fulfill its contract. (CBC)

About 800 homes in rural Nova Scotia are still waiting for high-speed internet service, prompting the province to hold back $550,000 from EastLink because it hasn't finished the job.

EastLink signed a contract with the province several years ago as part of a $75-million rural broadband program.

Most people who signed up for the service eventually got it. But there are hard-to-reach households where rolling hills and valleys make it difficult to connect them.

Mark Wade is one of them. He can see the wireless tower from his home on Indian Lake, near Mahone Bay.

Wade says EastLink technicians can't bring in the signal even with a 15-metre pole on his roof because his house is in a gully.

He called the technicians' boss about a location across the lake.

"I suggested they put a pole there and he agreed with me and said that was a very good idea. That was a year ago. He hasn't returned my calls," Wade said.

2009 deadline

Many rural Nova Scotians cheered when the Progressive Conservative government of the day promised them access to broadband internet service.

EastLink, Seaside Communications and OmniGlobe Networks were awarded contracts in 2007. The federal and provincial governments invested $35 million, while Seaside and EastLink put up another $40 million.

They were supposed to finish the job by Dec. 31, 2009.

The Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism says the landscape is making the job more challenging than first thought, and 800 households that are interested in being connected under the rural broadband program are still waiting.

Payment withheld

The department says it is holding back $550,000 in payment to EastLink until more people are connected.

EastLink says it has connected 6,400 households in eight counties, but needs more time to get to the last ones.

Wade believes the company should finish the job.

"I think EastLink could do much better as far as customer service goes," he said, "and they should step up and fulfill their contract that they were given by the government."

Wade is currently getting his internet service through BellAliant's cellphone network.

But he wants service from EastLink because he says it will be faster for business and gaming.